Don’t Look Down!
Nik Wallenda takes a high-wire walk across Niagara Falls—and into the history books
PHOTO: Wallenda comes from a family of acrobats and daredevils. (David Duprey / AP Images)
MAP: Niagara Falls spans the border between Canada and the U.S.
Daredevil tricks are in Nik Wallenda’s blood. He comes from a long family line of acrobats who have been flying through the air for seven generations. But he is the first in his family—and the first person in the world—to walk across the widest part of Niagara Falls on a high wire.
Wallenda made the daring crossing on June 15. He carefully balanced on a two-inch-wide cable while walking through whipping wind and mist that made it incredibly difficult for him to see. The 33-year-old daredevil walked in the air from Goat Island in the United States to Table Rock, Canada. He made the 1,800-foot walk in about 25 minutes, wearing special elk-skin shoes made by his mom.
Wallenda has been practicing on the high wire since he was 4 years old. He has walked the tightrope hundreds of times since he began his aerial career at age 19.
“I feel like I’m on cloud nine right now,” he said after finishing his walk over the largest of the three waterfalls that make up Niagara. Wallenda told reporters he had dreamed since childhood of making this tightrope walk.
Wallenda said “concentration, focus, and training” enabled him to complete the spectacular stunt. He said he thought of his great-grandfather, Karl Wallenda, while he was making his way across the falls. Wallenda’s great-grandfather fell to his death while doing a tightrope walk in 1978.
Walking over the falls also meant crossing the border between the United States and Canada. So, despite his impressive performance, Wallenda still had to show his U.S. passport to Canadian authorities when he stepped off the wire.
“What is the purpose of your trip, sir?” an official asked.
“To inspire people around the world,” Wallenda said.
Wallenda amazed William Clements, an 8-year-old from Dresden, Ontario, who watched the walk with his family from the Canadian side.
“Awesome!” William told the reporters on the scene. “The whole thing is awesome.”
More than 100,000 people gathered to watch Wallenda’s big stunt from both the U.S. and Canadian sides of Niagara Falls. Millions more watched live on television.
Others have crossed the Niagara River on a wire, but never over the widest part. The last time anyone was allowed to try the daring feat was 1896.
Wallenda says his next big high-wire goal is to cross the Grand Canyon.